Well, NOTHING will ever come close to Bank Street Music on my Commodore 64 for the rush factor. (Back then!)
It is nice that so many of the DAW folks offer demos, but really, it takes weeks to get used to a program, I don’t care which one it is!
Cakewalk is still offering their stuff for “rent” so you can play with it a few months and if it isn’t working for you just stop paying. I started with the Pro version rental, and after three months went all out for Platinum during a no-brainer sale they had. (But my old standbys Samplitude and Digital Performer lulled me away – now I wish I’d stuck with Sonar, frankly. None of the bugs the other two have, ARA with Melodyne works perfectly, esp. Midi from Audio… it is really impressive.)
That is not to say Samp and DP are shiite – but they are frustrating much more so than Platinum with its MIDI filters and FX, easy integration with a controller, great piano roll with note mutes, I could go on and on.
For film work, DP is a good program for wrangling lots of sample-based instruments and for creating gigantic templates of orchestral and other sampled instruments.
Samplitude has my favorite editing environment with its object-based editing, great cleanup tools (I have the Pro X3 suite that also comes with Sound Forge Pro 11 and that integrates with Spectralayers Pro 4 amazingly), a pretty good piano roll editor, and an adequate controller surface interface, even though it is a bit confusing at first.
Been using Samplitude since '98 and DP since '91, when it was just “Performer” and MIDI-only. So, I am the poster boy for being slow to change!
So, you make your choices and live with them, or own them all like I seem to be headed to do!!!